Why You Shouldn't Push through Your Knee Pain + Exercises That Can Help

By Steve Kravitz, PT, DPT, CST

One of the most common complaints my running patients admit to is the impact running has on his or her knees. The truth is, this complaint is occurring due to the way these runners have been accustomed to running for all of these years.

By working on the way that you are running and ensuring it’s the correct way, you are allowing minimal impact on your knees. Not to mention, I’m sure the undue stress on those knees could take some time off.

Trust me, your knees will thank you later.

How to Correctly Run to Ensure Minimal Impact

Good running techniques can make your run more enjoyable and less tiring. Not to mention, it can decrease your risk of injury. These techniques can help ensure minimal impact and optimal running:

  • Keep Your Head Straight: When you’re running, try to keep your head straight ahead of you, and avoid looking down at your feet. When you look down, it can create tension in your neck and shoulders. Also, try to relax your jaw while running to prevent tension.

  • Don’t Hunch Your Shoulders: The correct form is to keep your shoulders back and down. Practice keeping them relax to avoid further tension. Avoid hunching over, as it can restrict your breathing. This causes less oxygen to flow to your muscles.

  • Lean Forward While Running: When you bend forward or backward from the waist, this places pressure on your hips. If you lean slightly forward on your run, this can help reduce heel strike, helping you land more towards the middle of your foot.

  • Don’t Lift Your Knees Too High: Try to land with a slight bend to your knee. This will help absorb the impact when running on hard surfaces. Do your best to not lift your knees too high, and avoid bouncing up and down. A good rule of thumb to remember is that your knees should be moving forward, not upward.

  • Don’t Strike the Ground Heavily: Do your best to aim for short, light steps. Good running should be light and quiet to ensure minimal impact. Light steps are more efficient and cause less stress to your body.

  • Keep Your Hips Stable: Try to keep your hips stable and forward facing. Keeping this position in your hips can help prevent low back and hip pain.

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Signs and Symptoms of Knee Pain

The location and severity of your knee pain may vary, depending on the underlying cause. Weakness or instability, popping or crunching noises, swelling and stiffness, and the inability to fully straighten the knee are symptoms that can accompany knee pain. Knee pain sometimes occurs acutely, such as when a patient falls and tears a ligament. Other times, its onset is slow, due to strain on muscles or ligaments from repetitive motion.

  • Swelling and stiffness

  • Redness and warmth to the touch

  • Weakness or instability

  • Popping or crunching noises

  • Inability to fully straighten your knee

Exercises That Can Help Prevent Knee Pain

  • Foam Rolling your Glutes: Your glutes are an important muscle when it comes to running because they keep your pelvis stable while also improving your stride length.

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  • Calf stretches for all types of terrain: Depending on the surfaces you run on and your foot strike preference, working on your flexibility enables you to tolerate harsher running conditions including an unexpected situation you may need to navigate around such curbs or any other change in terrain.

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  • Pretzel Stretch: This is a fun stretch that allows you to stretch multiple areas with one movement. Glutes, IT band, hip flexors, quads, lower back area, and chest are all areas this stretch can enhance and lengthen.

Pretzel Stretch.jpg
  • Hip Flexor Stretch: You have one hip flexor that attaches to your back and also attaches to your hip, which can cause back and hip pain when it’s tight. When you’re on a run, this group of muscles brings your knee forward and up towards your chest. This helps explain why it prevents your hip to extend when this muscle is tight.

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Dr. Steve Kravitz of Steve Kravitz Physical Therapy provides a multidisciplinary approach to healthcare in order to ensure the highest quality care for patients in Nashville, Tennessee and New York, New York. Treatments are a unique, personalized approach to Physical Therapy which has been developed over twenty years to aid in ultimate pain relief.

To schedule an appointment or to learn more about what type of services Steve Kravitz Physical Therapy provides, contact us or read more on our blog.

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